Every two months, StartupPeoria hosts an entrepreneurial pitch contest for local startups called KeyStart! This past Thursday, was the third KeyStart and Virtual Halo was chosen to be a finalist amongst the applicants. Three companies are chosen and then a fourth is chosen by the community. Each of the four presenters are given three minutes to give their pitch. JUST THREE! And that's followed by a 10-15 minute question and answer session where the judges ask the presenter questions about their startup.

Four start the process, but only one goes home with a giant 4-foot check worth $5,000 in investment funding.

Contestants were told to be at LDVM in the Warehouse District for a tech check in preparation for the pitches that begin at 7pm. HDMI dongle in hand, I made my way into expanse of the exposed brick structure, which sits the the left of The Nest, Peoria's Coworking space. After meeting the rest of the contestants and putting on my duly-issued lanyard, I checked my tech and was relieved that it worked as expected.

Randon, our MC for the evening, pulled our names out of a hat for the order we would go in, and low and behold, I was chosen to go first. They say to go first or last, so I wasn't disappointed, but I was secretly hoping to get a comfort level of how the judges were going to work the process.

Before long, family and friends arrived, along with the judges, crowd, pizza and beverages.

  • 7:10pm  Randon started speaking
  • 7:20pm  I started my three minute presentation
  • 7:23pm  I finished my three minute presentation. Questions from the judges started flying
  • 7:35pm  My time on stage concluded. Now the waiting game begins...
  • 9:00pm  The judges adjourned to discuss the startups and decide who would win
  • 9:10pm  Randon emerges with the giant 4-foot check. Shrouded in secrecy.
  • 9:15pm  Without further adieu, Randon announces Virtual Halo the winner of KeyStart!

I'd like to thank the StartupPeoria, judges and the sponsors of KeyStart! This type of a program brings excitement, youth, and fun to entrepreneurship and to Peoria. Without the help of Attollo, OneFire, DJ4U, First Mid-Illinois Bank & Trust, this event would not happen. Thank You!